Canova: Sketching in Clay

Exhibition Website

Nov 19 2023 - Mar 18 2024

How does a sculptor turn an initial idea into a finished work of marble? 

For Antonio Canova (1757–1822), the most famous artist of Europe’s revolutionary period, the answer was with clay. Working with his hands and small tools, Canova produced dazzling sketch models in clay, which helped him plan his designs for his large statues in marble. 

Imprinted with the fire of his imagination, these sketches were boldly executed in mere minutes. Canova also made more finished models, sensuous in their details, that he showed to patrons or used as guides for carving. 

Approximately 40 of the some 60 of his surviving models reveal the artist’s extraordinary working process—a process that led to the creation of some of the most iconic works in the history of sculpture.

Credit: Overview from museum website

Image credit: Character head, c.1780, Antonio Canova. Dino and Raffaello Tomasso

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